Phil’s Points to Ponder for June 18, 2017


An old “Family Circus” comic strip shows the two boys Jeff and Billy squabbling over the size of the slices of pie their mom has placed before them. “They aren’t the same,” Jeff pouts. Mom tries again, evening-up the slices. Still Jeff is upset. “They still aren’t the same!” he whines. This time Mom uses a ruler and absolutely proves that both slices of pie are the exact same size. “But Mom,” Jeff complains, “I want mine to be just like Billy’s . . . only bigger!”

We all tend to think we deserve a bigger slice of the pie.  From the time we are little children, we are taught that doing more is worth more.

Did you get an allowance as a child, that weekly “reward” for doing the chores that were your responsibility?  If so, you probably had your allowance and the amount of work you did to “earn” that allowance go up as your age did. Right?

If a five year old gets a dollar for picking up their toys and clothes;
if an eight year old gets five dollars for feeding the dog, emptying the garbage, and vacuuming the living room; then a twelve year old should get considerably more for mowing the lawn, doing some laundry, watching younger siblings, and cleaning the garage.

Chores and allowances teach children that in this world’s economy we have to do work in order to receive our “rewards.” We want our kids to learn and to live the adage, “Hard work pays off.”

That is why the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20:1-15), is so unsettling. It is easy to identify with the disgruntled men who worked sunup to sundown, through the heat of the day, and then watched in amazement as some slackers who worked for one measly hour, in the cool of the approaching evening no less, got paid a full day’s wage. Of course the full day worker expects more. Of course the full day worker should get more. It is only fair. More work should equal more wages. “Hard work pays off.” Doesn’t it?

The answer to that is yes; but not always in a way we might expect!

The following story is told of Yogi Berra. The New York Yankees were at their peak and were negotiating contracts for the next year. A group of reporters interviewed players as they emerged from the owner’s office, and one of them asked Yogi Berra about the terms of his contract. In his characteristically, plain-spoken style, he said, “I’m gonna get to play baseball again next year for the Yankees, and would you believe it, they’re gonna pay me besides!

That’s the spirit of gainful employment, doing what you love to do and do well and getting paid for it besides. If the workers who worked all day in the vineyard had this attitude about their work, they wouldn’t have resented those who only got to work one hour. When you’re in the right vocation and you’ve got the right spirit, then the longer you work, the better. God’s justice arises out of a gracious invitation to use your innate gifts and abilities to the glory of God and to the benefit of others. In the long run, money or recognition or praise has little to do with it.

My theme for Sunday’s message will be, The Reckless & Extravagant Grace of God!

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